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Garbage Collection Puts Money In The Pockets Of The Poor

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NAIROBI , October 13, 2006 (IRIN) - In an effort to create employment and alleviate poverty in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, the United Nations labor agency is running a project to clean up the streets and provide an income to hundreds of poor people in the war-scarred city.

The project in Mogadishu, which employs about 2,000 people earning US $2 a day, involves rubbish collection from the city, which has had no municipal administration since the collapse of the national government in 1991. The project is funded by the European Commission and Norway's foreign ministry. A local NGO known as SAACID is involved in the project as a partner of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

"We get involved in what we consider technically simple projects. We are digging out approximately 3,000 tones of garbage a day from Mogadishu," said Joseph Connolly, the chief technical adviser of the ILO's Employment for Peace Initiative in Mogadishu, south and central Somalia.

An estimated 70 percent of the workers are poor women and about 30 percent are internally displaced people who live in squalid makeshift shelters in the city. Employment gave a sense of dignity to the poor, previously unemployed people. "It's the whole dignity of being employed and earning a wage. This is critical for peace," said Connolly.

"We see this sort of work with the districts as very much a peace process because you are doing something all together and the people are coming together also as districts during progress meetings. In several places the districts are joining together to clear garbage between their areas," said Connolly.

A similar project has been started in the south-central city of Baidoa and there were plans to initiate such employment-intensive projects in surrounding areas.

"If peace continues in Mogadishu and we are allowed to continue, then we can look at a sustainable waste-management system," Connolly added.

Source: IRIN


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